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Third-Party Candidates and the 2000 Presidential Election

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Objective.

This article examines how third-party candidates influenced the 2000 presidential election. Methods.

Two surveys provide information on a hypothetical election between only George Bush and Al Gore. The determinants of voting behavior in this election are then used to estimate how votes cast for third-party candidates would have been partitioned between Bush, Gore, and abstentions had the other candidates dropped out of the race. Results.

The estimates suggest that the Ralph Nader votes would have gone primarily to Gore (giving him the win in Florida) while Bush would have received more of the Pat Buchanan votes. The results also show that Nader's presence in the race gave Gore an incentive to position himself farther to the left ideologically. Bush's ideological position was not affected by Buchanan's participation. Conclusion.

The third-party candidates' participation was a critical factor in George Bush's Electoral College victory over Al Gore.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2003

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